New Koh Kong Commune Chief Says Cannot Help Sugarcane Disputants

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Koh Kong residents file a petition at Botum Sakor district’s Kandorl commune hall on August 2, 2022. (Supplied)
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A new ruling-party commune chief in Koh Kong province has refused to accept a petition from village residents asking for a resolution to their dispute against Senator Ly Yong Phat.

More than 100 people representing close to 1,000 families gathered at the Kandorl commune office in Botum Sakor district on August 2 to petition new commune chief Hoy Samnang to find a resolution to their dispute with Phat, who has sugarcane plantations in the province.

Chhim Sophan, a village representative, said they hoped the new chief would help them and intervene in the longstanding dispute.

“We voted for him already. He took office already. So we submitted a petition for him to help and to know that we have not received a solution and asked to help find a solution for us,” Sophan said.

The local resident added that around 840 families in community had lost 1,727 hectares of land in Botum Sakor, Sre Ambel and Thma Baing districts in the province, after it was cleared in 2006 by Phat’s companies Koh Kong Sugar and Koh Kong Plantation.

Samnang, the Kandorl commune chief, said he did not accept the petition because similar documents had previously been submitted to district and provincial officials, who already provided the village residents with potential solutions to the dispute.

He added that residents had rejected solutions several times and the resolution process had ended.

“This case has been solved already. The declaration to not to find a solution was issued several times already,” he said.

Hak Leng, the Botum Sakor district governor, said district authorities could not find a solution because the Land Management Ministry and relevant authorities had ended the case a long time ago.

“It is an old case but they keep protesting again,” Leng said.

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